Gazi Jalaludin is a 65 year old taxi driver in the city of the Sunderbans. At the age of 7, Gazi studied at the local school of his village. A studious child, he was jumping with joy to tell his father that he had stood first in class 1. But his father had news of his own — he was unable to gather enough money to buy him books for class 2 so Gazi would have to stop going to school. Gazi’s father was a farmer in the Thakurchak village of Sundarbans, West Bengal. He just had a quarter acre of land, which did not give enough yield to return even the inputs, only to leave the family starving for days. Gazi’s father was unwell and they came to Kolkata in search of some work, which might give them at least one meal every day.
Unfortunately no one would hire an ailing man, and Gazi ended up begging on the streets of Kolkata. But was always on his mind, the many young boys back in his village still trying to make ends meet. So he formed ‘Sundarban Driving Samiti’ and started giving driving lessons to the young boys of the Sundarbans so they could start living their lives with dignity.
Gazi also started asking his passengers if they wanted to donate some books or old clothes or medicines. Many people took interest and Gazi would collect books, clothes and medicines from them and distribute it among the destitute in his village. Many kids who had to leave studies due to lack of money to buy books just like Gazi were able to study again with his help. He continued doing this until 1997, but there was something that still made him feel restless. Since he left studies, Gazi would often dream about a school where kids wouldn’t have to pay anything to study. And now he was determined to do that himself.
This did not discourage this young man and he started his school in one of the rooms of his two-room house. He would go announcing in the village on a mike urging parents to send their kids to school, offering to teach them for free. Initially no one was interested. The villagers asked him how it would make a difference as they wouldn’t be able to make the kids study further, ruining all chances of them getting a job.
Two of Gazi’s passengers helped him to buy land for the school, some took the responsibility to pay the teachers and some helped him to start the mid-day meal in his school. With the help pouring in, he was able to build his second school, Sundarban Sikshayatan Mission, in 2009 in Purv Thakurchak, Sundarban, which is 2 kms from his first school. Now, there are around 21 teachers, four non-teaching staff and nearly 425 students in these two schools. Thus Gazi took it upon himself and his journey finally culminated into him having two schools and an orphanage.
Being forced to back out of school at the age of 7, Gazi Jalaludin had a clear mission; no other child should be deprived the power of education. From begging on the streets of Kolkata during his childhood to now being the man responsible for the free education of over 425 underprivileged children in West Bengal, he is a true hero and a person of mettle.
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The CSR Journal Team